A New York court has ruled against French fashion house Louis Vuitton in its court proceedings against Los Angeles-based company My Other Bag (MOB), known for its fake designer bags. The court ruled that My Other Bag products are parodies and not actionable sources of trademark infringement or dilution of the Louis Vuitton brand.
My Other Bag creates knockoffs of brands including Balenciaga, Proenza Schouler, YSL, Celine and Louis Vuitton; nearly two years ago Louis Vuitton filed the lawsuit My Other Bag.
Louis Vuitton claimed MOB’s marketing strategy “invokes and emphasises the fashionable character of its products and its intent to create an association with Louis Vuitton.” This included the deliberate use of Louis Vuitton’s distribution channels. Louis Vuttion claimed MOB was diluting the brand’s reputation and distinctiveness, as well as confusing consumers who are likely to think MOB’s designs are authorised by Louis Vuitton.
Judge Jesse M. Furman of New York State’s southern district wrote in the decision: “It is self-evident that MOB did mean to say something about Louis Vuitton specifically. That is, Louis Vuitton’s handbags are an integral part of the joke that gives MOB its name and features prominently on every tote bag that MOB sells. In arguing otherwise, Louis Vuitton takes too narrow a view of what can qualify as a parody.
“The quip ‘My Other Bag . . . is a Louis Vuitton,’ printed on a workhorse canvas bag, derives its humor from a constellation of features — including the features of the canvas bag itself, society’s larger obsession with status symbols, and the meticulously promoted image of expensive taste (or showy status) that Louis Vuitton handbags have, to many, come to symbolise.
“MOB’s use of Louis Vuitton’s marks in service of what is an obvious attempt at humor is not likely to cause confusion or the blurring of the distinctiveness of Louis Vuitton’s marks; if anything, it is likely only to reinforce and enhance the distinctiveness and notoriety of the famous brand.”
In response to the decision, Tara Martin, the CEO & founder of My Other Bag, told The Fashion Law: “I can’t tell you how thrilled our entire team is to get this win, not only for the My Other Bag brand, but for other entrepreneurs, writers, artists, film makers, designers, anyone who uses their creativity and voice to make a statement. Parody is one of the oldest and most beloved ways in our culture to address social, economic, and political issues. One of America’s founding, and to us, most important principles, is freedom of speech and it must be protected and fought for.”